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Purification Of The Soul- Symptoms Of The Hearts Sickness And Its Health

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"He it is Who sent down As-Sakinah (calmness and tranquillity)

into the hearts of the believers, that they may grow more in

Faith along with their (present) Faith. And to Allah belong the

hosts of the heavens and the earth, and Allah is Ever Al-Knower,


Al-Quran: Surah 48: Al-Fath ayat 4.



Four-Symptoms Of the Heart's Sickness & Signs of Its Health




The Signs of a Sick Heart


A servant's heart may be ill, and seriously

deteriorating, while he remains oblivious of its

condition. It may even die without him realising it. The

symptoms of its sickness, or the signs of its death, are that

its owner is not aware of the harm that results from the damage

caused by wrong actions, and is unperturbed by his ignorance of

the truth or by his false beliefs.


Since the living heart experiences pain as a result of

any ugliness that it encounters and through its

recognising its ignorance of the truth (to a degree that

corresponds to its level of awareness), it is capable of

recognising the onset of decay-and the increase in the severity

of the remedy that will be needed to stop it-but then sometimes

it prefers to put up with the pain rather than undergo the

arduous trial of the cure!


Some of the many signs of the heart's sickness if its

turning away from good foods to harmful ones, from good

remedies to shameful sickness. The healthy heart prefers what

is beneficial and healing to what is harmful and damaging; the

sick heart prefers the opposite. The most beneficial sustenance

for the heart is faith and the best medicine is the Qur'an.


The Signs of a Healthy Heart



For the heart to be healthy it should depart from this

life and arrive in the next, and then settle there as if

it were one of its people; it only came to this life as a

passer-by, taking whatever provisions it needed and then

returning home. As the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant

him peace, said to Abdullah ibn Umar, "Be in this world as if

you were a stranger or a passer-by."1 The More diseased the

heart is, the more it desires this world; it dwells in it until

it becomes like one of its people.

The healthy heart continues to trouble its owner until

he returns to Allah, and is at peace with Him, and joins

Him, like a lover driven by compulsion who finally reaches his

beloved. Besides his love for Him he needs no other, and after

invoking Him no other invocations are needed. Serving Him

precludes the need to serve any other.


If this heart misses its share of reciting the Qur'an

and invoking Allah, or completing one of the prescribed

acts of worship, then its owner suffers more distress than a

cautious man who suffers because of the loss of money or a

missed opportunity to make it. It longs to serve, just as a

famished person longs for food and drink.


Yahya ibn Mu'adh said: "Whoever is pleased with serving

Allah, everything will be pleased to serve him; and

whoever finds pleasure in contemplating Allah, all the people

will find pleasure in contemplating him."

This heart has only one concern: that all its actions,

and its inner thoughts and utterances, are obedient to

Allah. It is more careful with its time than the meanest people

are with their money, so that it will not be spent wastefully.

When it enters into the prayer, all its worldly worries and

anxieties vanish and it finds its comfort and bliss in adoring

its Lord. It does not cease to mention Allah, nor tire of

serving Him, and it finds intimate company with no-one save a

person who guides it to Allah and reminds it to Him.


Its attention to the correctness of its action is

greater than its attention to the action itself. It is

scrupulous in making sure that the intentions behind its actions

are sincere and pure and that they result in good deeds.


As well as and in spite of all this, it not only

testifies to the generosity of Allah in giving it the

opportunity to carry out such actions, but also testifies to its

own imperfection and shortcomings in executing them.


The Causes of Sickness of

the Heart


The temptations to which the heart is exposed are what

cause its sickness. These are the temptations of desires

and fancies. The former cause intentions and the will to be

corrupted, and the latter cause knowledge and belief to falter.


Hudhayfa ibn al-Yamani, may Allah be pleased with him,

said: "The Messenger of Allah *saaws* said, "Temptations

are presented to the heart, one by one. Any heart that accepts

them will be left with a black stain, but any heart that rejects

them will be left with a mark of purity, so that hearts are of

two types: a dark heart that has turned away and becom like an

overturned vessel, and a pure heart that will never be harmed by

temptation for as long as the earth and the heavens exist. The

dark heart only recognises good and denounces evil when this

suits its desires and whims." 2


He, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, placed

hearts, when exposed to temptation, into two



First, a heart which, when it is exposed to temptation,

absorbs it like a sponge that soaks up water, leaving a black

stain in it. It continues to absorb each temptation that is

offered to it until it is darkened and corrupted, which is what

he meant by "like an overturned vessel". When this happens, two

dangerous sicknesses take hold of it and plunge it into ruin:


The first is that of its confusing good with evil, to

such an extent that it does not recognise the former and

does not denounce the latter. This sickness may even gain hold

of it to such an extent that it believes good to be evil and

vice-versa, the sunnah to be bida' and vice-versa, the truth to

be false and falsity to be the truth.



The second is that of its setting up its desires as its

judge, over and above what the Prophet *saaws* taught,

so that it is enslaved and led by its whims and fancies.


Second, a pure heart which the light of faith is bright

and from which its radiance shines. When temptation is presented

to pure hearts such this, they oppose it and reject it, and so

their light and illumination only increase.*




Notes: 1. Al-Bukhari, Kitab ar-Riqaq, 11/233. 2. Muslim, Kitab

al-Iman, 2/170 (with different wording).



The Purification of the


from the works of Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbabli, Ibn

Al-Qayyim al-Jawziyaa, and Abu Hamid al-Ghazali

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